April 12, 2024

Louisiana lawmakers consider doubling money AG can use to hire private attorneys, consultants

The Louisiana Legislature might double the amount of money the state attorney general can use for outside law firms, expert witnesses, consultants and other costs associated with litigation. 

House Bill 17, sponsored by Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, would increase the amount of money the attorney general can keep in Department of Justice Legal Support Fund from $10 million to $20 million.

Support for the fund comes from legal judgments, settlements, fines and other money the attorney general’s office recovers.

The attorney general uses it to cover litigation expenses for expert witnesses and private attorneys, but the fund can also be put toward broader purposes. These include paying for consultants, technology, employee training, public education initiatives and any “expenses to represent the state,” according to state law

Increasing the Legal Support Fund threshold to $20 million could limit the money available for other state programs. When the fund reaches its cap, any additional recovered money goes into the state’s general fund that pays for public schools, health care, prisons and other state services. 

Court settlements and judgments aren’t considered a reliable source of general fund revenue, however. McFarland said the Legal Support Fund has only reached its current $10 million threshold twice, so money isn’t often transferred to other areas of the state budget.

Attorney General Liz Murrill declined to say Monday why her office needs more capacity for the fund.

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